The Soundless Ones
by Kate Osias
We laugh about them, though we are still afraid. Laughter gives them shape, a name, substance, from which you and I can extrapolate meaning. It is our rebellion; our way of saying we survived, we’re alive, we’ve moved on. Sometimes, I even believe it.
We are lost. In the dark corridors of our minds, we are still running from the silence, running for our lives, running, just running, away, always away, and we are terrified.
The doctors say we will recover. The unspeakable did not happen, they said. The horror is just in our minds, they said. Just let go, they said.
But the doctors don’t understand. The doctors just give pills, and talk, and give tests, and talk.
But the nightmares don’t stop. They’re always hovering, waiting, a devouring presence even when we’re awake. So we sing. And we cry. And we shout. And we try not to drown in the silence.
The doctors think we are sick. They don’t understand; we are just afraid.
We are young, in love, and bored, so we don’t wait for the towing services to arrive. Instead, we set off adventuring into the unknown.
The house is large, abandoned; an ominous monolith in the deserted landscape.
Rats, you say. That’s the absolute worst thing it can have.
No, roaches, I reply. I can’t stand roaches.
You look at me with a lopsided smile and I know you’ll do something crazy. A moment later, you’re climbing over the fence. I’m shaking my head and saying things like trespassing, cops, rodents and vile insects, when you look back.
And then you offer me your hand.
I take it and follow.
We are inside. It is quiet, too quiet. The air is heavy with dust and possibility. The pale light from the windows makes everything look grey.
I want to go back, I say, but no sound comes out.
Hush, they say. Their voices reverberate in my mind, in my blood. But I don’t see anything. The shadows scurry at the periphery of my vision. I hold your hand tightly. You squeeze it and say...
You are dragging me; you are calling out my name; you are screaming. I don’t hear you. I don’t hear anything. But your grip is strong; your fingernails dig deep into my skin, painfully; your eyes wide, your lips contort to form words.
Run, you scream soundlessly.
I am running.
I am in the hospital. I am in the house. I am out of breath and I am screaming. But I hear nothing.
The walls heave, contract, shift — white, grey, black, white, black, white, white! — and then the pain comes. Sunlight. A fluorescent bulb. Someone asking me if I’m all right. A nurse telling me I’ll be fine.
The hospital welcomes me back to its cold embrace. The house beckons for me to return. And as I drift into a medicated, dreamless sleep, I look for you. But you are not with me.
I tell myself I did not leave you behind.
You are laughing.
Laughter gives you shape, a name, substance from which I can extrapolate meaning. I tell myself I am laughing with you.
I’m here, you say. Hush, my love. Don’t scream.
I want to tell you I’m not screaming. I want to tell you I’m sorry. I want to tell you we survived. We’re alive. We’ve moved on. I want to tell you...
And then there is no sound. I see you smile and I know you’ll do something crazy. As the darkness creeps in, I reach for your hand. Before the silence swallows me whole, I convince myself I am not afraid.
Copyright © 2012 by Kate Osias